Saturday, February 27, 2016

Incivek Triple Therapy: Near Death Experience Attempting Hepatitis C Cure - But CURED!

Starting The Journey

The first couple of questions that one would have, of course, would be, "What is Incivek Triple Therapy?" and, "Who Can Take This Treatment?" (Please note that this article has been updated on 9/11/2014 in a very positive manner. Scroll down to the end to read the great update! Now, be sure to scroll down further and see not a great update as of 8/24/2019)

Incivek is a prescription drug used with the medicines Pegylated Interferon Alfa-2a (peginterferon alfa) and Ribavirin to treat chronic Hepatitis C genotype 1 infection in persons 18 years old or older that have stable liver problems and have not been treated previously or have failed previous treatment. If you are pregnant, you would not take this therapy, or if you are a man with a sexual partner who is pregnant. Nor would you take it if you are planning on becoming pregnant.

One of the positive aspects of this treatment is that statistically 79% have been cured who have never been previously treated versus 46% that were cured with just peginterferon alfa and ribavirin alone that have never been previously treated.

There are side-effects that one would need to consider as well as adverse reactions with some drugs you may be taking. A consult with your doctor as well as a liver specialist is something that is a must to fully understand all that this therapy encompasses in those regards.

Incivek has to be taken with foods that contain some fat in them, approximately 20mg of fat, give or take. Your healthcare provider will discuss the food/snack options that will contain the needed fat. One note, it is recommended that you eat this food or snack up to 30 minutes prior to taking Incivek.

Length Of Incivek Triple Therapy

Many things will influence how long you are on this therapy. You will take the Incivek part of the Triple Therapy during the first 12 week period of the treatment along with the Peginterferon Alfa and Ribavirin. Once you complete the 12 week period of the Incivek, you will continue an additional 12 to 36 weeks of treatment consisting of Peginterferon Alfa and Ribavirin. It will be your healthcare provider who will determine how long your therapy will last based on your blood test results and the history of your treatment.

How Often To Take Incivek

For Incivek to work, you need to maintain a steady amount in your body at all times. This is accomplished by taking Incivek orally every 7 to 9 hours. The Pegylated Interferon Alfa will be injected once weekly. The Ribavirin will be taken orally twice daily.
Incivek works on the Hepatitis C virus as it multiplies. The Peginterferon Alfa and the Ribavirin are used by your body to clear the virus.

Things You Will Need To Tell Your Healthcare Provider

  • If you have anemia or similar blood problems
  • Other liver conditions besides Hepatitis C
  • If you have HIV infection, Hepatitis B or any problems with your immune system
  • You have a past history of high uric acid levels in your blood or gout
  • If you have had any type of organ transplant
  • If you have plans for surgery upcoming
  • All other medical conditions
  • If you are presently breastfeeding
  • A list of all medications, herbs and supplements you are taking.

Support During Therapy

You will be supplied adequate literature as well as a kit for this therapy along with a 24/7 nurse line to call. You will be monitored closely by your healthcare provider. Full instructions and support options that are available are included with the kit.

The Author's Journey On This Therapy

In the author's instance, a liver biopsy was done along with extensive lab work prior to being considered for as a candidate for Incivek Triple Therapy. Having met the criteria as a candidate, the therapy will start on November 13, 2012. It is the author's hope to do one of two things, either update this article as the treatment progresses or write additional articles that will be linked to and from this article on the progress of the therapy. The first step of the journey will be a "clinic class" on November 13th of 2012, where the medication dosages and other information will be covered.

Additional Information


  • Today was the "start" of my therapy. During the visit on the 13th, the nurse practitioner in charge of administering my therapy and I decided that starting on Saturday would be the best as I am off work on Sunday. I started the day off with the oral medications and took the first weekly injection of Pegylated Interferon Alfa along with the final oral medications around 8pm tonight.
  • After taking the Ribavirin and Incivek at 4am, I reported to work around 7am. The effects I felt were hard to describe. At times I felt sort of high and energetic, then there was a short period of my stomach feeling a tad off, but outside of that, they overall side-effects did not stumble my day or negatively impact my ability to work. I have been sure to eat the high fat snacks when taking the Incivek. The nurse practitioner did inform me that by NOT doing so, that there could become an issue with diarrhea. So far no issues there.
  • My manager did ask me how I felt, and to be honest with her, as well as the readers here, I certainly feel "different" on various levels. It is sort of hard to describe. I am not my "normal" self for sure. Hopefully I will be able to identify this more clearly as the therapy continues.

Update 11/24/2012 (Week 2):

  • Today was the second weekly injection of Pegylated Interferon Alfa. The continuation of the Incivek and Ribavirin has gone about the same as the first week.
  • The side-effects I have associated with the treatment so far has been some nausea that comes and goes. Loss of appetite for short periods of time along with increased appetite at other times. I have developed a rash over my arms and legs and some of the torso areas. This is being treated by both an oral medication as well as a topical cream that has been prescribed. Apparently about 50 percent of those undergoing this therapy experience some degree of rash.
  • Should the rash get too bad it could mean discontinuing this therapy. I will take the medications and the oatmeal shower and baths and hope for the best. Less soap/body wash is used as well.
  • On the "mental" side of things, I have experienced a level of being able to be agitated pretty quickly. Being able to identify this as a side-effect and simply taking a deep breath or two and holding my tongue (not speaking) has been an effective way for me to deal with that.

Update 12/02/2012 (Week 3):

  • Yesterday, 12/01/2012, was the start of my third week of therapy with the third injection of the Pegylated Interferon Alfa. So far, there has been very little problems with the injection sites. Some itching and muscle soreness but no rash or brusing.
  • The medications prescribed for the rash mentioned previously have done their job well. I still have some itching, and some evidence of a rash, but it is not nearly as bad as it was when it first flaired up.
  • A major side-effect, that so far I have barely managed to control, is on the mental side of things. I have found I have very little patience with everyday things. It is very easy to make a sharp retort in response to a question or circumstance. I have learned to simply hold my tongue. However, that being said, the stress produced by this mental issue adds to the issue.
  • Sleep has started becoming elusive as well. When I first started the therapy, I was able to sleep like a baby, but the last four or five days/nights, I have tossed and turned and have woken up numerous times. Because of this, I am not resting well, and that adds to the above issue as far as being very easy to become irritated.
  • The nausea is still present. It will hit me suddenly and I simply have to take something for it immediately to try to get it under control. My appetite simply is not present as well. I am having to force foods down, especially the 20 gram plus snacks that must be taken when ingesting the Incivek.
  • The aches and muscle pain are increasing as well as the fatigue.

Update 12/10/2012 (Week 4):

  • Things are pretty much the same this week as last week. Even with the medications for the rash and itching, it seems like those side-effects are going to continue to surface and be present throughout the first three months of this therapy. I am thinking it is the main side-effect I am having from the Incivek. Hopefully after the discontinuation of that medication three months into this therapy, those side-effects will leave.
  • Do know that this therapy will create problems with your mind, just as described when your read about the side-effects. Very easy to become irritated, loose patience, be short and snippy and such. You have to watch what you say and how you respond in conversations as well as circumstances. Some depression surfaces as well. The suicidal thoughts have NOT surfaced. Those seemingly surface if you had them prior to the therapy. It seems like the therapy may magnify such thoughts/actions.

Update 12/17/2012 (Week 5):

  • All is not rosy on the home front. The side-effects I have shared have not gotten to be less, but have become more intense.
  • Sleep is elusive. Sometimes it is due to the itching and other times simply will not come. I end up dozing off about 20 to 30 minutes before I have to get up to go to work, and/or on my off day, the same time to take the medications.
  • Nausea is more often. Whereas it was just a few times a day, now it is after every meal, after every snack and sometimes just during the course of the day and night. I have not thrown up yet, but I head that off with a dose of Pepto Bismol. That and Tums.....over and over and over.
  • The itching, even with the meds for those side effects, is getting worse as the days go by and not better.
  • After the fifth shot day before yesterday, I was in bed for 20 hours out of 24 and barely, and I mean barely, managed to convince myself to get out and go to work today. This shot was kick arse for sure.
  • All in all, no great news yet, however, I do see the nurse practitioner tomorrow and she should be going over any progress that I have made according to all the lab work I have submitted to for the past month or so.

Update 12/23/2012 (Week 6):

  • On Tuesday the 18, I saw the nurse practitioner that is the supervisor of my therapy. Upon reviewing my labe results she told me everything looked fine, however, I was responding in the best manner to the therapy so I would be on the therapy the full 48 weeks, versus a desired shorter time.
  • She also informed me that when I stopped the Incivek about mid-February, that the rash and iching side-effects would be come less and possible disappear. The nausea, fatigue and sleep issues along with the short-temper and lack of patience would continue the duration of the therapy, as those side-effects were caused by the other two drugs I would stay on after stopping the Incivek.
  • I took my sixth shot on Saturday, the 22nd. So far the symtoms are not too evident, but I still feel sore all over and have the flu like symptoms.
  • The nausea, fatigue and lack of sleep continue.
  • I was prescribed an additional medication to help with the rash, itching and insomnia issues called Doxepin. I have taken it for four nights. With the exception of last night, it did not appear to be helping, but on the fourth night, it seemed to help some. It appears that one of the side-effects of this drug is sweating to an extreme in the middle of the night. All four nights since starting this medication I have woke up with the sheets soaking wet.
  • More lab work in two weeks and follow up in one month with the nurse practitioner
  • I will add that the work days are getting more and more difficult to deal with. The body aches and just overall crappy feelings are taking a toll on my ability to function at 100 percent while at work. I have actually been questioning if I will be able to continue work under these conditions very much longer.

Update 12/30/2012 (Week 7):

  • At the start of week 7, there is not much change over week 6. The side-effects pretty much remain the same with no improvement, but not getting any worse either. More or less I would say for a two week period they have stabilized.
  • One new side-effect has been constant now for about two weeks however. The Doxepin that I am taking for the itching and rash from the Incivek crates severe night sweats for me. The first couple of hours there are no problems, but after that I will continually wake up actually drenched in sweat. The sheets, mattress and any clothing I may be wearing is soaked. The bedding has had to be changed as well as clothing. During the day this side-effect does not surface.
  • Again, hopefully some of the "other" medications I am having to take for the side-effects of the Incivek will be stopped soon after I complete the Incivek phase of this therapy at the end of week 12.
  • The areas of the weekly injections are staying very sore and feel like that that area is bruised. There is no visual evidence of bruising, however the pain is most certainly there. This is one of the medications that will continue through week 48. I may have to rotate more the areas that I am receiving the injections at.

Update 01/07/2013 (Week 8):

  • Week 8 has started off with me missing the first day of work since this therapy was started. The side-effects are having a toll on me physically as well as mentally.
  • Small, trivial tasks of everyday nature are becoming major chores for this participant. Trying to remember what I start out to do it becoming a chore as well.
  • The rash and itching continues as well as the inability to sleep. Being physically drained from lack of sleep is effecting just about every area of my life at the moment. I will be requesting a sleep aid later this month when I see the NP who is in charge of my therapy.
  • At this point in the therapy, I can fully understand why so many people drop out of the therapy due to the harsh side-effects that one has to endure. My hopes are that I can stick this out for the additional four weeks of the Incivek, and that the rash and itching as well as the sleep issues abate. There will still be side effects for the remaining 36 months while continuing the other two drugs.

Update 01/13/2013 (Week 9):

  • As of Wednesday, January 09, 2013, I have been pulled off the Incivek due to body rash and itch over 100 percent of my body. As of today, the 13th, there has been little noticeable improvement in the body rash and itching. My head and face are peeling. My hands are swollen, including my fingers. My whole body is sensitive to touch and any clothing or other thing making contact with the body is very painful, including the mattress, sheets and covers. Working is a nightmare as the clothing makes continual contact as my job requires much movement.
  • I am still on the other two therapy drugs, the Pegylated Interferon Alfa-2a (peginterferon alfa) and the Ribavirin and should continue on these two drugs for approximately 39 more weeks of therapy for a total of 48 weeks of treatment.
  • Should the rash not fully go away or become more manageable, the peginterferon may have to be reduced.
  • I have been referred to a dermatologist on Tuesday, the 15th, for additional management of the rash and itching conditions.
  • Other side-effects remain the same, fatigue, nausea, loss of concentration and focus. Sleepless nights even with the prescription drug Ambien being added recently.
  • I have only been barely able to work two days in the past seven days. I have been off the last two days and will try to work tomorrow. I have caught myself being light-headed and not performing my job properly the last few days.

Update 01/20/2013 (Week 10):

  • The dermatologist on Tuesday, the 15th, put me on steroids to bring the body rash and itch under control. I have been on the steroids for six of ten days with somewhat positive results.
  • During this week my hemoglobin has bottomed out at 6. This has created some alarm and the possibility of a transfusion may be needed. The NP in charge of the therapy has pulled me off of the Ribavirin entirely now and I am still taking the weekly Pegylated Interferon Alfa-2a (peginterferon alfa).
  • Emergency lab work was done yesterday and the hemoglobin has not gotten any worse, so I will continue to eat iron rich foods and take iron supplements with follow lab work and evaluation on Thursday the 24th.
  • I have absolutely no energy, can not think clearly, nor make decisions. I have been off work for a full week now as I can not function at work.
  • Clearly this therapy has come close to ending the life of this author. I am told this is a rare occurrence, however, take note, I don't know how rare it is, but I can vouch I have never been so weak, sick, and dependent on others for my daily functions.
  • Will update again after the next lab tests and evaluation of the results.

Update 01/27/2013 (Week 11):

  • All treatment has been discontinued and I am no longer involved in the therapy.
  • Due to all the various adverse side-effects and near hospitalization, it was determined by my health care provider as well as myself and wife to discontinue this therapy.
  • I am now on various drugs to get my red blood cell and hemoglobin count back up to normal. Along with various other medications to get a handle on the other various flareups I have shared in my previous updates.
  • When I started this therapy I was taking one prescription medication for hypertension. Right now I count eight various prescriptions I am taking right now of which seven are for the complications from this therapy.
  • I lost 15 pounds during the past week, and that alone was very alarming to both myself and my health care provider.
  • I am on a very slow rebound, I hope, towards a return to work soon. I have lost approximately 2 and a half weeks from work.
  • More lab work is scheduled to to review various levels during the next month.
  • There will be no more updates to this article unless there are further complications from this therapy that still show up.
  • Viral count is down from when I started the therapy and shows no signs of increase.
  • My health care provider has suggested an attempt with a new medication coming up in in a year or so. I will consider that treatment. The HepC virus is not an issue right now and hopefully will remain calm until the next medication become available.

Update 9/11/2014 - Cured As Of This Update!

I had lab work done on 9/9/2014 and received a call today from the nurse practitioner who was in charge of this therapy that I partook in.

Very great news! Even though I had a very rough time and almost died, it seems that the therapy worked and was harsh enough to have me showing up in lab results as CURED with no trace of Hepatitis C Virus! 

Update 8/24/2019

For quite a few years now, since taking the above "treatment" and going through what I went through, there has been a side effect due to the fact that the RN that was over this "study" did not take into consideration that I was Diabetes 2, controlled with diet.  This treatment did something to my pancreas and now even with Insulin, and three other drugs, my glucose level is all over the place.  Even the clinical pharmacist that I am seeing now, is frustrated. I have ended up in the ER over this fact and in the back of an ambulance.  I stress to be cautious if you delve into this method of treatment if you are diabetic.

Hepatitis C - An Overview of the Disease 

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